The thing that impressed me about Chris Leary – aside from his beautiful images – is that I can see his business smarts right on his website. It is beautifully branded and thoughtfully designed. But, equally important, he is VERY good at educating the client. He KNOWS his customer, he KNOWS his niche and expertise, and he KNOWS that what he offers is of great value. And, he communicates this to potential clients clearly and explicitly on his site. His clients know EXACTLY what working with Chris will be like. And, they become a little better educated about wedding photography along the way. Chris Leary serves as an excellent example on how confidently communicating your specialty and educating the consumer will lead to the right match between wedding pro and client. Nicely done, Chris!
Owner of Chris Leary Photography
New York City, New York
Why did you start your business?
I started my photography business because, simply, I love taking pictures! I started taking pictures at a very early age using a Polaroid camera, and it surprised no one that I eventually pursued a career in photography. I also have an entrepreneurial side to me, and it was easy to mix a passion for photography with a means of making a living.
I decided to specialize in weddings because I enjoy helping couples capture the pictures of their dreams. It’s a wonderful privilege to be entrusted with documenting a very special moment in someone’s life. Wedding photography tells a story of who we are, where we’ve come from and where we’re going. Sometimes I can’t believe I actually get paid to do this!
What book do you recommend to new business owners?
I highly recommend “The Successful Wedding Photographer” by the editors of Photopreneur. This book gives the new wedding photographer a complete look at what it takes to run a wedding photography business in today’s market. Plus, it’s always great to learn how other wedding photographers approach their businesses. By using the insights in this book, you can get your business launched without the trials and error of doing it solely yourself.
Do you have any cool goal-setting tips to share with us?
One goal you should prioritize is to build an email marketing list. Engaged couples will browse dozens of photography websites when planning their wedding, so you need the ability to capture that potential lead and not let it escape. One way to do this is by offering website visitors free planning tips via an email newsletter. The ability to market to a potential customer weekly or monthly will help build the value of your brand to the customer.
What do you find to be the biggest challenge as a business owner?
Keeping current is the biggest challenge I face as a business owner. It’s easy to get too comfortable with your normal everyday business routines, and not challenge yourself to improve or build upon your success. I find that the photo market seems to change rapidly. You need to look at what people are shopping for, watch what they are buying, and provide something more that maybe they were not expecting.
If you were starting your business all over again, what would you have done differently?
Where I am today is totally different from where I started. In the beginning, I thought that my pictures alone would sell me. While showing great photography was a good start, it didn’t always get people to call me or hire me. The fact is that there are a number of great photographers in any given market area. So with all the competition to get clients, you must constantly ask yourself what makes you different, and what makes you attractive to your clients. Once you have those answers, then you need to get that message out to the world so that your ideal client finds you.
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